Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Pendulum: Tattoos

I wore fake tattoo sleeves for the play...I think this is why I'm thinking about this topic.  A lot of people in town don't know me and thought the tattoos were real.  When they found out I'm a Christian, they were surprised.

It's amazing how many Christians think that to be a Christian you have to be anti-tattoos.  They quote Leviticus 19:28 to back up their position:

Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.

But that doesn't wash with meIf you're going to say that verse is binding for Christians today then you also have to enforce laws such as not trimming your beard or wearing clothing made of two different types of material.

In context, the verse seems to be about God's people, Israel, not practising divination.  So, any tattoos with links to Satan or the occult is obviously not on for Christians today.

I think the conservative objections to tattoos seem to be more cultural than scriptural.  There seems to be a consensus among older Christians that being a Christian is to be 'anti-scruffiness', which includes long hair for guys, dreadlocks, dyed hair, piercings...and tattoos.

My personal view is that tattoos are a wisdom issue.  I don't encourage people to get tattoos, and I don't think Christians need to get inked in order to relate to non-Christians.  Some tattoos look great and others look tacky.  Before getting a tattoo, everyone should ask themselves the following questions:
  • Will you regret this in later years?  Will this tattoo look ridiculous on an older person?  What about when you get wrinkly?  Tattoos are permanent.  Yes, you can get them lasered off, but that is expensive.
  • Is it a wise use of money?  Getting a tattoo isn't cheap.  If you think about eternity, could your money be better spent on something else (that applies to lots of things)?  It's amazing the amount of people who complain about having no money, but always seem to find the money for tattoos.  Hmmm.
  •  What is it you're getting tattooed?  Who is the tattooist?  Don't get something dodgy or done by someone who is heavily into the occult.  What does the tattoo show about who you are?  I think it's unwise for women to get tattoos somewhere that is 'suggestive' (i.e. the top of their breast) and then complain about men ogling at it.  Having a Bible verse tattooed may help you remember it, and may open doors for interesting conversations with non-Christians, but there are plenty of other ways to memorise Bible verses and start conversations.
  • Will the tattoo hinder you getting a job?  I personally don't care if someone with tattoos and piercings serves me; I care more about whether they are polite and helpful, rather than what they look like.  Not all employers see it that way though.
I don't think Christians should be judged for having tattoos any more than they should for having pierced ears or using hair dye to cover up greys. I've considered getting one, but I won't because there's nothing that I can think of that I'd want tattooed.  Also, I couldn't stand the pain!

What are your personal views on tattoos?


Wendy said...

Good thoughts Sarah. I confess I haven't thought much about it since we live in Japan most of the time where tattoos are nowhere near as popular as they've become recently here. In fact they are generally frowned upon and you often can't use public baths if you have one. That's because in the past it's usually only been the Japanese mafia that have them. So that's another consideration for a Christian: a tattoo may not be acceptable in another country, if you were ever to go overseas for work or ministry.

Sarah said...

That's a really good point, Wendy. We may have freedom to get tattoos, but sometimes it maybe wiser not to for the sake of others.

Iris Flavia said...

I never ever thought about tattoos unless my Brother stood in the door in August 2002 telling me our Dad won´t make it from cancer this time.
He gave me his car so I could help him leading our Dad through and the next day I went to the tattoo-shop.
I had to wait two weeks and learned later that many get a tattoo in this situation, loosing a loved one - the pain goes away from your heart for those moments and forever it makes me think about these hard times, where Bro and I stuck together in getting through.
I don´t even have to show it when wearing a bathing suit, so...

Sarah said...

Yeah that's a good point, Iris. A tattoo in honour of a late loved one is good for remembering them.
What is your tattoo of?